Eliminate the hazards of depleted uranium (2023)


Management practices and operational procedures for humanitarian mine action are constantly evolving. Improvements were made and changes were required to improve safety and productivity. Changes may result from the introduction of new technologies to address new landmine, unexploded ordnance or ERW threats, or from field experience and lessons learned from other mine action projects and programmes. These experiences and lessons must be shared in a timely manner.

Technical Notes provide a forum for sharing experiences and lessons learned from collecting, collating, and publishing technical information on current and important topics, especially those related to security and productivity. The technical notes complement the broader topics and principles addressed in the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).

Tech Notes are not formally staffed until they are released. They are based on practical experience and publicly available information. Over time, some technical notes may be "promoted" to become the full IMAS standard, while others may be withdrawn if they are no longer relevant or superseded by newer information.

A technical note is not a legal document or an IMAS. There is no legal requirement to accept the advice given in the technical note. They are purely advisory and intended to supplement technical knowledge or provide further guidance for the application of IMAS.

The technical note was prepared by the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Mine Action (GICHD) at the request of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in support of the international mine action community. They are published on the James Madison University (JMU) website (http://www.hdic.jmu.edu/) and the GICHD website (http://www.gichd.ch/).


Since depleted uranium (DU) first came to public attention, there has been considerable interest in the potential dangers posed by DU contamination in post-conflict environments. Some of the material online and in the media about the possible health risks of depleted uranium is speculative and not supported by existing scientific knowledge about the actual health hazards posed by depleted uranium.

This technical note has been prepared as an advisory document to alert mine action managers and field workers to all potential UE hazards and to provide guidance for establishing a safe operating environment and procedures. This updated version includes more information on the different rounds containing depleted uranium and builds on work done by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) since the original technical note was published in 2002.

DU cleaning tasks should only be performed by appropriately qualified EOD personnel or other qualified personnel; they are not the tasks of basic deminers or other field personnel.

1 range

This technical note sets out the principles and provides guidance for clearing depleted uranium (DU) hazards encountered during mine action in a permissive post-conflict environment.

2. References

A list of normative references is provided in Annex A. Normative references are important documents cited in this technical note and form part of the terms of this technical note.

3. Terms and Definitions

A list of terms and definitions used in this technical note is provided in Appendix B. In the technical note series, the words "should" and "may" are used to indicate the expected degree of compliance. This usage is consistent with the language used in the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) and guidelines.

  1. "Should" is used to indicate a preferred requirement, approach or specification.

  2. "Maybe" is used to indicate a possible method or course of action.

4. Bottom

The main use of depleted uranium in ammunition is as a penetrating material for armor-piercing projectiles. The development of depleted uranium ammunition began in the 1970s, and its first confirmed use in conflict was during the 1991 Gulf War.

Platforms firing depleted uranium ammunition can be found in land, air, and sea forces, and while it was developed for use against armored targets, the use of depleted uranium ammunition against unarmored targets has also been documented. Legacy contamination from the use of depleted uranium munitions may require authorization from demining organizations operating where these munitions are used. These are now known to include Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kuwait, Kosovo, Iraq, Montenegro and Serbia.

Decontamination efforts have been carried out in some of the affected states, but residual contamination will remain at the site of the attack in the aforementioned areas. The unlicensed use of depleted uranium munitions may also occur in other conflicts, as well as in future conflicts.

Ammunition, including UE, is believed to be in the arsenals of some 20 countries around the world, but only six countries are known to produce it: China, France, Russia, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. A complete list of DU munitions, countries known to possess depleted uranium munitions, and conflicts in which depleted uranium munitions have been used can be found in Annex C. Depleted uranium is known to have been used in the following types of munitions:

  1. Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Disposal Disposal (APFSDS) ammunition for tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFV) in 25mm, 105mm, 115mm, 120mm and 125mm calibers;

  2. 20mm shells for the U.S. Navy's Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), commonly known as the Phalanx;

  3. 25mm and 30mm shells for US ground attack aircraft, including the A-10 Warthog and AV-8B Harrier;

  4. At least one Russian 125mm High Explosive Anti-Tank Fin Stabilized (HEAT-FS) round;

  5. Some variants of Russian infrared-guided air-to-air missiles; and

  6. American-made M86 anti-personnel mine and area denial artillery ammunition (ADAM).

It should be noted that in many cases the depleted uranium element of the ammunition is a sub-caliber long-stem armor-piercing round, so even intact depleted uranium fragments found in the field will be smaller in diameter than the caliber. Caliber size refers to the full round before firing.

DU is also used as an integral part of the armor fitted to some American tanks. The armor of modern tanks usually consists of several layers of different materials, and depleted uranium is known to be used as a layer of armor on American M1 Abrams tanks manufactured after 1988. Not sure if other countries also incorporate depleted uranium into their tanks. armor. Sites where depleted uranium armored tanks were destroyed should be treated the same as sites where depleted uranium ammunition was attacked.

5. Reasons for removing hazards from UE

There are a number of reasons why depleted uranium hazards may need to be removed in a post-conflict environment. These include:

  1. reduce risks to human health;

  2. Allowing the destruction of useless or unstable munitions;

  3. protect environment;

  4. Environmental cleanup of the area is permitted;

  5. Allows EOD authorization for Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs); and

  6. Local residents are assured that the risk of contamination has been minimized.

6. EU Threat

6.1 Physicochemical properties of uranium and UE

Natural uranium is a low-radioactive material that can be handled, used and stored with simple safety precautions. When enriched uranium is made from natural uranium, a depleted uranium residue is left behind,1It is less radioactive than the original uranium; it is chemically toxic.

Natural uranium exists as three isotopes with different half-lives and different levels of radioactivity in the following ratios:


Abundance (atomic percent)

Radioactivity (Bq/mg)

Half-life (years)






The father of the natural uranium series.





The parent of the natural actinium series.





product daughter of238you

In isotopes,235you and234U is more radioactive and therefore more useful to the nuclear industry. Standards used by the commercial uranium industry consider uranium containing 0.711% by weight 235U as natural uranium.235U was chosen for this criterion because it is the most relevant isotope used as nuclear reactor fuel.

To be radioactive enough for commercial use, uranium needs to be processed to enrich it in more radioactive isotopes. The process is called "enrichment" and the end product is called "enriched uranium" and contains more than 8.0% by weight235U. The remaining uranium is DU because it is in235U compared to natural uranium. Uranium, which is first converted to gas, is usually enriched. Depleted uranium used in weapons must be converted back into solid metal form and is often alloyed with small amounts of other metals. Depleted uranium in munitions typically contains 0.75% titanium.

Not all countries that produce EU ammunition have access to metallurgical facilities where such work can be done, France and the UK produce ammunition using EU metals from the US. Laboratory analyzes of EU weapons material produced in the UK and US have shown235U content below 0.2wt%2The analysis also showed that the depleted uranium material in the U.S. stockpile contained small amounts of other radioactive elements because it contained reprocessed uranium from nuclear reactors. Little is known about the composition of depleted uranium used in munitions produced by other countries, which may not match the above description.

Historically, depleted uranium metal has also been used as ballast or counterweight for ships and aircraft, and while it is no longer widely used for this purpose, vehicles with depleted uranium counterweights will continue to be used for some time. DU is also used as radiation shielding and in civilian non-nuclear applications requiring high-density materials.

DU is composed almost entirely of isotopes238You; its initial radioactivity is 60% that of natural uranium, but over time it becomes more radioactive. The chemical and physical behavior of DU is the same as natural uranium. However, depleted uranium is a type of uranium that is much more enriched than what occurs in nature.

The uranium industry has a history of more than 50 years, during which time experience in handling crude, enriched and depleted uranium provides the basis for recommendations to minimize the potential hazards of handling and using depleted uranium.

6.2 International advice and responsibilities

Advice on radiation safety and final disposal of radioactive waste can be obtained from:

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Vienna International Center
PO Box 100
1400 Vienna, Austria

Tel: (+43) (1) 2600-0
Email: Official.Mail@iaea.org


World Health Organization (WHO) Avenue Appia 20
1211 Ginebra 27

Tel: (+41) 22 791 21 11 Fax: (+41) 22 791 3111


United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)
Gigiri United Nations Avenue
PO Box 30552, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya

Tel: (254-20) 7621234
Email: unepinfo@unep.org


The IAEA has a statutory duty to establish standards for the protection of health from exposure to ionizing radiation and to provide for the application of these standards upon request by any country. To carry out these functions, the IAEA has developed a comprehensive system of radiation safety standards in close cooperation and consultation with other relevant organizations of the United Nations system.

The International Basic Safety Standards for Protection against Ionizing Radiation and for the Safety of Radiation Sources (Basic Safety Standards), developed jointly with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and other international organizations including the World Health Organization, are the mandated standards for radiological protection. Assess the potential radiological impact of UE use.

The applicable exposures required by the Basic Safety Standards are any occupational exposures, medical exposures or public exposures. However, they only cover radiation risks and not the toxicity risks that may be associated with ingesting uranium. In the past, the IAEA, in accordance with its statutory mandate and competence, has conducted comprehensive scientific assessments of radiological impact.

The United Nations Environment Program led a series of field investigations at sites where depleted uranium weapons were used, with teams including staff from the IAEA and WHO. The results and recommendations of these investigations have been used to inform the recommendations in this technical note.

6.3 EU Ammunition

DU is used in kinetic projectiles due to its metallurgical properties; it is metallurgically similar to steel and thus can use similar production and processing techniques. very high density3DU allows higher kinetic energy4Launched at the target level than the equivalent projectile, for example, made of steel. After hitting an armored target, the DU shell deforms, keeping the tip sharp, an effect known as "pure insulation". A side effect is that depleted uranium oxidizes easily, meaning fragments of depleted uranium ignite when they hit their target. This effect is known as self-ignition, and the burning DUs usually deal extra damage to the target.

The combination of design, high quality and high speed allows DU shells to penetrate targets using hydrodynamic penetration principles. The pressures involved are so high that the target's armor breaks away from the depleted uranium penetrator.

Despite the radioactive and chemical toxicity of depleted uranium, it must be emphasized that depleted uranium is not a nuclear, radiological or chemical weapon; DU is used for its high atomic density/mass and its metallurgical properties.

6.4 Identification of DU fragments

A DU segment has the following physical characteristics:

  1. no magnetism;

  2. Extremely heavy in size, DU is 60% denser than lead;

  3. Inky black lump or powder;

  4. They retain heat. UE pieces retain heat to the point of causing severe burns within three to four hours of cooking. The hot core may be covered with black dust and therefore appear cold;

  5. honeycomb. The fragment will have a light texture;

  6. Metal will not appear on the surface of debris that has been in the field for some time. Corrosion will start from the cracks caused by the projectile hitting the hard surface and spread from there. Corrosion is yellowish in color; and

  7. Sparks When cold, they ignite like a cigarette lighter if struck with a metal object such as a pick or shovel. IMPORTANT NOTE: Crews should never strike any object found on site unless they are absolutely certain that the object contains only inert metals

7. Hazard and risk reduction

7.1 Overview of routes of exposure and hazards

In EOD demining or removal, the key factors that determine health risk are:

  1. routes of exposure (i.e. external radiation or depleted uranium entering the body through inhalation, ingestion or contact with wounds);

  2. exposure; and

  3. Particle size and solubility of any depleted uranium entering the human body.

The effects of external exposure are limited to radiological effects, while the effects of internal exposure include radiological and chemical toxic effects. In practice, the effects of external radiation are negligible except in long-term physical proximity.

Numerous detailed risk assessments have been performed on UE. These are based on laboratory studies of depleted uranium and natural uranium, which has the same chemical behavior as depleted uranium. Although these assessments indicate that depleted uranium is dangerous, it is generally accepted that the risk can be minimized if proper safety precautions are taken and followed.

7.2 External risks - radiation dose rate

DU emits alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Alpha radiation does not penetrate clothing or skin. The radiation dose rate to an unshielded DU surface is approximately 2.3 millisieverts per hour (mSv/h). A significant portion (98%) of this dose rate is due to beta radiation.

The DU density means that only radiation emanating from the surface is a factor, since the DU itself shields against internal radiation.

There are two health effects associated with radiation exposure: "acute" effects after high doses ("radiation sickness") and increased risk of "random" effects, such as cancer.

Radiation doses from DU are too low to cause acute effects, and in practice, the increased risk of stochastic effects from external exposure is negligible, except for prolonged contact with exposed skin.


Like all heavy metals, depleted uranium is chemically toxic. Based on current evidence, the major health concern associated with UE chemical toxicity is kidney damage. However, veterans with known high levels of depleted uranium in their bodies did not experience severe impairment of kidney function.

UE can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or wounds. It causes damage in the body due to chemical toxicity and radioactive effects. It is unclear whether the risks of heavy metal poisoning outweigh those of radiation, because most laboratory studies do not attempt to distinguish the two effects.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified all sources of alpha particle radiation in the body as carcinogens. Because depleted uranium primarily emits this type of radiation, depleted uranium in the body may have a higher risk of cancer.

Some animal studies have shown other health problems after exposure to depleted uranium; however, these findings have not been replicated in all studies, and these health effects have not been observed in the limited number of people known to have been exposed to depleted uranium. A full description of the literature on the health effects of uranium can be found in the US Toxic Substances Disease Registry's Uranium Toxicology Facts.5

In addition, inhalation of insoluble depleted uranium particles can damage the respiratory system.

Based on the risk assessments that have been carried out, people will only receive doses high enough to have adverse health effects if they are exposed to depleted uranium dust particles for a prolonged period of time without any personal protection. The simple risk reduction measures recommended in this technical note can prevent the entry of UE into the body and provide sufficient protection if properly followed.

7.4 Pollution types and exposure routes of EU dust

There is a slightly higher risk for those performing EOD cleanup due to the presence of UE dust from fires or explosions. Due to the presence of field equipment and EOD activity, particles may be resuspended in the air, many of which may be of considerable size.

Routes of exposure to depleted uranium dust are: inhalation; ingestion, which may occur after hand-to-mouth contact or involve particles that are inhaled but subsequently excreted in the digestive system; UE particles through open wounds or abrasions.

7.5 Risk Reduction - External Risks

Bare UE material (whether as a full round or as part of a fired armor piercing projectile) requires more than 200 hours of treatment before the UK Safe Exposure Limit (SEL) of 500 mSv (for hands). This SEL is very conservative. Wearing gloves can significantly reduce the exposure of hands to external radiation hazards. Gloves reduce beta dose and provide up to 5000 hours of safe exposure per year.

This technical note states that depleted uranium material should not be handled directly or, if handling cannot be avoided, that two layers of gloves should be worn (see section 7.7 below). Following these procedures means that the already low risk is negligible.

7.6 Risk Reduction - Internal Risks

In addition to measures to minimize external risks, all personnel working in areas where EU ammunition has been used must use the personal protective equipment listed below. Wearing a mask can prevent inhalation and ingestion of resuspended depleted uranium dust. Covering all exposed skin will prevent contamination from cuts and abrasions. If this is done, the main risk is inadvertent ingestion of depleted uranium due to contamination of surfaces or clothing. Ensuring strict adherence to the procedural steps listed below (sections 7.7-7.8) will ensure that this risk is also negligible.

7.7 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)6

EODs must wear the following PPE when working in areas that may be contaminated with DU

Technicians or qualified officials until the presence of UD can be aggressively discounted:

  1. Disposable plastic gloves used in hospitals;

  2. High-quality masks complying with European standard EN149 FFP3 or similar; and

  3. Outer clothing and footwear that cover the entire body, such as full-body cotton overalls and sturdy boots.

The purpose of PPE is to provide complete general protection against inhalation of dust or contact with the skin and against cuts from sharp fragments. As stated in Section 8.1, metal fragments should not be handled in areas where depleted uranium is present. If there is any risk of hand contact with UE, cotton inner gloves and heavy PVC outer gloves should be worn.

7.8 Risk reduction procedures

After taking all precautions to prevent injury and avoid direct contact, it is also important to remember that clothing and footwear may become contaminated. When leaving the site, shake off excess material from boots, clothing, and equipment. Anything suspected of being contaminated can be checked with a Portable Contamination Meter (PCM), and all clothing and equipment should be cleaned regularly. Regularly checking your mask with a PCM can also help keep you safe.

Good personal hygiene should be observed, such as covering cuts and scratches before starting work. Normal personal hygiene such as washing your face and hands or showering after get off work will outweigh any additional potential for cross-contamination.

After removing or handling outer clothing, care should be taken not to touch mouth or face until hands have been washed and exposed skin has been washed. "Dirty" areas (where equipment and outer clothing are left) should be separated from "clean" areas (where personnel can wash). Staff are required to wear masks in dirty areas and remove them immediately before leaving. Normal hand and clothing washing should be considered sufficient to avoid any risk of cross-contamination.

Managers who are unable to procure equipment that meets recommended standards should use the best available materials and ingenuity to offset the above risks.

8. Work in areas that may be polluted by the EU

8.1 Personal protection

Warning 1: DU Fragmentation. Do not allow depleted uranium fragments or fragments to touch bare, unprotected skin. DU fragments should not be picked up by hand; a shovel or other similar implement will be used.

DU contamination is relatively harmless unless inhaled, ingested, or absorbed into the bloodstream through an open wound. UE penetrator fragments are very sharp and can cut if not handled properly.

8.1.1 Simple considerations

The following simple precautions will reduce the risk of UE contamination and serious health risks:

  1. Sleeves must be rolled up and gloves must be worn. Care must be taken to avoid sharp objects that may tear gloves and expose skin;

  2. Wait at least four hours after tripping before attempting to clean it. Fragments of DU penetrators burn internally for up to four hours after firing;

  3. A medical or industrial face mask must be worn at all times. This will prevent the ingestion of any DU oxide particles released by the movement of the debris. In the absence of a suitable mask or respirator, a wet veil should be worn, tied over the nose and mouth;

  4. Do not flip or move debris with boots. Always use a CV tool, stick, shovel, or similar item as a remote tool; and

  5. To avoid contamination of personal clothing and footwear, coveralls and boot covers should be worn.

In addition, all work procedures must be designed according to the risk reduction recommendations in Sections 7.5 to 7.8.

8.1.2 Victims and exposed persons

Appropriate medical authorities should be notified in the event of any injury or death in a depleted uranium-contaminated area.

If any of the precautions specified in this note fail, or if for any reason personnel are working in an area contaminated with depleted uranium without proper protection, it is possible that they have been exposed. As stated in this note, the risk of exposure should be explained to persons who may have been exposed to depleted uranium in a non-alarmist manner.

Although no medical interventions can mitigate these limited risks once exposure has occurred, exposed persons should have the opportunity to consult with medical personnel with expertise in radiation physics or toxicology and should be subject to regular monitoring, which is important for workers who may be occupational. Said to be standard exposure to radiation.

8.2 Radiation detection equipment

8.2.1 Thermoluminescence dosimeter (TLD)

While low radiation counts from DU ammunition are unlikely to be recorded on personal dosimeters, EOD technicians may wear TLDs when working in contaminated areas as a precaution to ensure they are not exposed to high levels. External radiation, as described in section 8.3. Personal dosimetry and health checks must be coordinated with appropriately qualified local medical centers. TLDs can be obtained from a variety of sources. Identified the following from internet searches; there are many others:

  1. Randall.(http://www.landauer.com/);

  2. Proxtronics Corporation. (http://www.proxdose.com/); o

  3. Milion Technology.(http:///www.mirion.com/)。

You can find information on how TLDs work athttp://www.ab.ust.hk/sepo/tips/rp/rp002.htm。

8.2.2 Portable Pollution Meter (PCM)

The Mini Monitor Portable Contamination Meter (PCM) with GM B-6-H Tube is a small, sensitive, yet rugged instrument for the detection of depleted uranium contamination. Although the majority of pollutants emitted by UEs are alpha radiation, this radiation is difficult to detect in the field because it is easily blocked by a layer of grass or dust and has a short range in air. Instead, gamma or beta radiation field measurements should be made.

To detect DU, highly sensitive instruments are required, and readings must be taken very close to the ground. UNEP field teams used the following PCMs:

  1. The Saphymo-SRAT S.P.P.2 NF Scintillation Meter, which measures gamma radiation, is the most efficient instrument for conducting research;

  2. Inspector, manufactured by H.E. International, which is lighter and measures beta radiation; and

  3. Exploranium GR-130G/BGO, which is a gamma spectrometer capable of identifying radioactive isotopes that emit radiation.

Instruments from other manufacturers may also be used. For effective field work, instruments with sensitivities comparable to those described above should be used.

8.2.3 Contamination location

All available data should be used to identify locations where depleted uranium munitions are known or suspected to be used. Visual cues and other information can often be used to identify possible contamination locations within a site. If contamination of a large area is suspected, PCM should be used for random measurements, combined with visual cues and other information to identify areas that should be systematically investigated.

When safe and appropriate, the method that should be used to systematically search for contamination in a small area is an online survey. Crews should methodically move across the site at 1-2 meter intervals, using their instruments to sweep the ground in front of them to ensure no surface contamination is missed.

A detailed description of the methodology used by UNEP to inspect these sites can be found in its report on the DU in Bosnia and Herzegovina.7

8.2.4 Alternatives

When PCM is not available and depleted uranium ammunition is believed to have been placed by one of the parties to the conflict, all sites should exercise caution before ruling out the use of depleted uranium.

All AFVs should be considered suspicious and therefore all precautions should be taken. Since the use of DU ammunition against non-armored targets has also been documented, the absence of AFV should not be taken as a guarantee of the absence of UE. In order to assess the likelihood that depleted uranium has been used at a location, all information on the types of munitions used at that location must be compared with the munitions listed in Annex C of this Technical Note. Other munitions fired from aircraft or vehicles known to house depleted uranium munitions may also be evidence of the use of depleted uranium munitions. All activities on site must take precautions commensurate with the possibility of using depleted uranium munitions.

8.3 Personal dosimetry and health checks

Although low radiation counts from depleted uranium munitions are unlikely to be recorded on personal dosimeters, the following process can be employed to monitor external radiation exposure of teams working in areas where depleted uranium munitions have been fired. European Union.

At least one member of each EOD or specialist team is designated as a control member and is issued a Thermoluminescent Dosimeter (TLD) which must be worn whenever EOD missions are performed in the area. In addition to using a TLD that must be changed monthly, arrangements must also be made to collect urine samples from the same control member of each team, again monthly. The samples can then be tested for the presence of DU. This must be coordinated with appropriately equipped local medical centers.

Demining organizations should ensure that individuals have medical records documenting their work in potentially depleted uranium environments for future regular monitoring.

9. Demining and detonation of areas potentially contaminated with depleted uranium

9.1 On-site detonation

If landmines and unexploded ordnance are detonated in depleted uranium-contaminated areas during cleanup efforts, there is a risk of resuspension of the contamination, posing an inhalation hazard. Whenever feasible, blasting should be carried out away from contaminated areas, or contamination should be removed prior to blasting. If this is not possible, or if doing so would be extremely risky, attention should be paid to wind direction and speed. As stated in Section 7.7, the downwind vicinity of an explosion must be kept clear of crowds, and all persons in the vicinity must wear masks.

9.2 Community Links

Because the risk of DU can be a significant cause of public alarm in areas where it is used, operators conducting risk education programs as part of demining or EOD operations should consider incorporating educational descriptions of the actual risks of DU and risk reduction strategies. in this technical note. Information on any decontamination activities undertaken should also be provided.

10. DU Scheduling Method

10.1 European Union detects pollution

Areas contaminated by UE may not always be visually identifiable. Contamination should be located using sensitive portable pollution meters (PCMs), such as those listed in Section 8.2.2, and the methods listed in Section 8.2.3.

10.2 Collection

10.2.1 Box preparation

The container used must be a solid metal box of appropriate size and non-porous. The box must be strong enough to support the weight of even a small amount of depleted uranium, and must be able to be secured to prevent the contents from leaking. Wooden or cardboard boxes should not be used as they will absorb contaminants.

A 20 mm liner of suitable material such as sand or dirt should be inserted into the box. The liner is used as a packing medium to contain depleted uranium fragments, absorb depleted uranium oxides and protect against fire. The 20mm liner should build up around the sides and top of each chip layer as the box fills. Before closing the box, a final layer of sand or soil should be added on top.

10.2.2 Checkboxes

Once filled with debris and covered with sand or earth, the box must be closed and sealed to prevent leaks. Next, the Caution Radioactive Material - DU Fragments box will be checked and the corresponding trefoil symbol (radiation) applied.

10.2.3 Manual transport

While depleted uranium fragments are not highly radioactive, full boxes should not be carried near the body. They should be kept as far away from the body as possible. Two or three boxes can be carried between two people using the sturdy 6ft pole through the handle.

10.2.4 Elimination

Filled boxes should be moved to a collection point (fenced and appropriately marked and tagged) and stacked for removal by a professional hazardous and radioactive waste disposal company in accordance with IAEA Basic Safety Standards. Guidance on appropriate companies and appropriate procedures should be sought from the IAEA or national regulators.

It should be noted that since DU is so dense, it acts as a radiation shield, and therefore, the inner boxes in the stack are shielded by the outer boxes. Furthermore, the dose rate at a surface decreases with distance according to the inverse square law. A relatively small distance greatly reduces the level of absorbed radiation, so the distance between the fence and the chimney should be only 1 meter.

10.3 Decontamination principles

It should be recognized that in most cases it is not feasible to remove all traces of UE from a site. However, the significant risks posed by contamination depend on whether the contamination is concentrated enough that exposure would result in doses high enough to cause health problems. Therefore, the goal of decontamination efforts should be to remove all high concentrations of pollutants that people may be exposed to in order to eliminate this risk. However, care must also be taken to minimize additional risks to personnel performing decontamination work and others, such as resuspension of airborne contaminants.

Since DU material corrodes in the field and can move in groundwater or air, early removal of intact DU fragments will result in the removal of the greatest amount of DU material from the site. Therefore, early decontamination efforts should always be preferred in terms of risk reduction. Early decontamination is also the easiest and least costly in terms of procedure in most cases.

10.4 Decontamination procedures

10.4.1 DU fragments and bullets

Depleted uranium fragments or intact indenters and shrapnel represent the highest concentration of depleted uranium material at the site and care must be taken to remove all such fragments from the site. Parts must be boxed as above and handled by a specialist company, see sections 10.2.1-10.2.4 above.

Corrosion and weathering of depleted uranium fragments and armor-piercing shells that have been in a location for a long time means that any intact depleted uranium fragments will have fragments in the soil around them. Therefore, when collecting any DU block, the surrounding 10cm3 of dirt or sand must be collected at the same time as the block.

10.4.2 Surface decontamination

Any contaminated soil or material that can be identified with the PCM should be removed from the site using a trowel or similar, placed in the aforementioned box and disposed of by a specialist company, see Sections 10.2.1-10.2.4. If the contamination is on a hard surface such as concrete or asphalt and cannot be easily removed, the contaminated area should be covered with a layer of asphalt or concrete.

10.4.3 Subsoil decontamination

In cases where depleted uranium is launched from a high angle relative to the ground or from the air, the depleted uranium material can be buried in the ground for some distance, depending on the composition of the ground. In many cases, this contamination will not be detectable from the surface. In this case, the risk of resuspension from disturbing the soil outweighs the risk of contamination from burial, unless the site is used in a manner that could leave the soil disturbed by future activities, or where the presence of depleted uranium could harm water or agricultural resources.

If future use of the site requires remediation of the subsoil, then the recommended procedure is to completely remove the topsoil to a certain depth. In these cases, a study must be performed to identify all contamination points. All contaminated soil must be excavated at each point of contamination, following the path of the round until no further contamination can be found. The depth of topsoil removal will depend on the soil type and advice should be sought from the Environment Agency or other agencies with experience in depleted uranium depletion.

Locations where decontamination of undisturbed subsoil should be recorded. Detailed location information should be registered with an appropriate agency that can keep records of affected sites and monitor land use to ensure soils on these sites are not disturbed. Environmental monitoring of nearby sites and water sources may also be required.

10.4.4 Polluting Vehicles

The interior of vehicles targeted by depleted uranium munitions can contain considerable levels of contamination and must be disposed of by specialized hazardous waste and radioactive waste operators in accordance with IAEA Basic Safety Standards. If collection by a suitable operator cannot be arranged immediately, a warning about the presence of the UE and the clover (radiation) symbol must be painted on the exterior of the vehicle using a glossy weather resistant paint and the appropriate national or international authorities notified. If it is possible to seal the vehicle without additional risk to personnel, it should be done as well.

If the risk of leaving the vehicle in place is unacceptable, for example if the vehicle is in a built-up area, it should be moved to the nearest identifiable safe area. If this is done, all possible measures should be taken to prevent the spread of debris and other contaminants from the vehicle. The exterior of the vehicle must be cleaned of contaminants and sealed prior to transport, and steps must be taken to ensure that any contaminants released during transport are controlled. The original location of the vehicle must be decontaminated and the transport route considered potentially contaminated and inspected using the techniques described in Section 8.2.3.

10.4.5 Contaminated buildings

In buildings contaminated with depleted uranium munitions, the air may contain significant amounts of depleted uranium and the risk of resuspension of airborne particles may be increased. All areas and surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with an industrial vacuum cleaner and the material crated and disposed of as described in Sections 10.2.1-10.2.4. If necessary, the surface can be further cleaned with pressurized water.

10.4.6 Stuck head

Occasionally, partial penetration of the target may occur, causing the AP projectile to jam. If the indenter cannot be removed, it should be placed for 7-14 days, and then it will shrink slightly due to weathering, and then it can be removed by tapping hard. Since weathering can cause some depleted uranium material to diffuse into the environment, it is best to remove the AP rounds as soon as possible.

10.4.7 Cross contamination

After taking all precautions to prevent injury and contamination of the operating area, it must be remembered that clothing and footwear may become contaminated. Any items suspected to be contaminated must be cleaned immediately and inspected using a PCM, and staff must follow all risk reduction procedures outlined in Section 7.8 above.

11. Security report

Demining organizations must ensure that all their management, demining, administrative and support personnel are aware of the dangers of depleted uranium if they must operate in a potentially depleted uranium environment. (Your EOD or specially qualified personnel should have been trained in DU hazards.) While these personnel will not be actively involved in depleted uranium hazard cleanup, they may inadvertently decapitate themselves while inspecting targets hit by depleted uranium rounds. placed in a potentially dangerous situation.

The following safety summary must be provided to such personnel:

DU is a heavy metal primarily used in the anti-armor ammunition of main battle tank primary weapons and the barrels of some ground attack aircraft. It is slightly radioactive and has similar chemical toxicity to lead.

When DU ammunition is intact, there is no apparent danger even after firing, but there is less danger when DU ammunition hits a hard target. This produces dust and depleted uranium fragments within a 50m radius around the target. The risk is only present if the particles are swallowed, inhaled, or enter the body through an open wound. If this happens, there may be a slightly increased risk of cancer or other harmful effects in the future.

You should know that without special instruments it is impossible to detect whether a damaged target has been hit with depleted uranium. The following precautions should be taken:

  1. Do not enter or climb damaged hard targets, or wander within 50m unless you are cooperating with an EOD technician.

  2. If your job requires you to work within 50 meters, please wear a mask and gloves and roll up your sleeves. Cover any cuts and abrasions with a waterproof bandage. Spend as little time as possible on homework.

  3. Do not eat, drink or smoke near damaged objects. After finishing work, wash and shower as soon as possible. Take off your coat, and if possible, change it out. Otherwise, wash it off. Don't eat, drink or smoke until you do.

  4. Do not under any circumstances come into contact with UE fragments or unknown metals. Do not flip or move debris with boots. Always use a CV tool, stick, shovel or similar as a remote tool.

12. Responsibilities

12.1 National mine action authority

The National Mine Action Authority is responsible for informing all mine action agencies of any armed conflict that has occurred and of any history of the use of depleted uranium munitions. Authorities should be aware of these instructions and provide copies, through the National Mine Action Centre, to all mine action agencies, including those involved in mine awareness. The Authority must also seek and provide to these agencies all available information that could be used to identify contaminated sites.

12.2 Demining organizations

Managers of any mine action team should also be aware of these instructions and should include the recommendations in these instructions in the SOP if the use of depleted uranium ammunition is suspected or confirmed. The manager is also responsible for ensuring that EOD trained staff are present, or sending a staff member to attend specific DU hazard training. If a national mine action agency or mine action center has not yet been established, it is the managers' responsibility to establish a code of conduct among themselves to ensure the safety of mine action personnel and sites.

12.3 Deminers

All mine action personnel working in areas where depleted uranium contamination may be present should make every effort to avoid the hazards of depleted uranium dust through the careful use of protective equipment, strict adherence to SOPs, and common sense.

Annex A (Regulatory) References

The following documents, when referenced in the text of this technical note, form part of the terms of this guide.

a) IMAS 04.10 Glossary of Mine Action Terms and Definitions.

The latest edition of these references should be used. GICHD owns copies of all references used in this technical note. A register of the latest editions/editions of IMAS Standards, Guidelines and References is maintained by GICHD and can be found on the IMAS website (www.mineactionstandards.org). National mine action authorities, employers and other interested agencies and organizations should obtain copies before commencing a mine action programme.

The latest version/edition of the technical note can be accessed via the IMAS website (www.mineactionstandards.org).

Annex C (informative) EU munitions, platforms, user countries and affected countries

1. EU Ammunition

As mentioned in section 4, the DU in most of these cartridges is a long rod penetrator with a diameter much smaller than the bore, which refers to the diameter of the entire cartridge before firing. Gauges are listed by size from largest to smallest. This list should not be considered complete and in some rounds there is very little information available in the public domain.

1.1 round 125mm

  1. 3BK-21B High-explosive, anti-tank, fin-stabilized (HEAT-FS) round, Russian/Soviet production. This round is used by T-90, T-80, T-72 and T-64 tanks.

  2. 3VBM-13 Armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, sabot, tracer (APFSDS-T), Russian/Soviet production. This round is used by T-90, T-80, T-72 and T-64 tanks.

  3. The 125mm APFSDS-T bullet produced in China. China's Type 99, Type 98 and Type 90 tanks are equipped with DU ammunition. The Type 85-III can also carry individual DU shells.

  4. Pakistani-produced 125mm Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Disposable Case (APFSDS) projectile. Pakistan's T-80UD and Type 90-II tanks are equipped with this round.

1.2 rounds 120mm

  1. L26 APFSDS round, produced by the UK. The Challenger 1 tank was equipped with this shell, but is no longer in service.

  2. L27 APFSDS round, produced by the UK. For use with Challenger 2 tanks.

  3. M829 APFSDS-T round, produced by the United States. For use with the M1 Abrams tank.

  4. OFL 120 F2 APFSDS-T cartridge, produced in France. Leclerc's tank was equipped with this round.

  5. PROCIPAC APFSDS-T round, manufactured in France. Note that PROCIPAC is the circular name for the development phase. It may have subsequently been licensed and given a different name. Once licensed, it will be used on Leclerc's tanks.

1.3 rounds 115mm

  1. 3rd round UBM-13 APFSDS-T, produced by the USSR. Both T-64 and T-62 tanks are equipped with this bomb.

1.4 rounds 105mm

  1. The M774 APFSDS-T bomb produced in the United States is used with the M60 Patton tank.

  2. The M833 APFSDS-T bomb produced in the United States is used with the M60 Patton tank.

  3. The M900 APFSDS-T bomb produced in the United States is used with the M60 Patton tank and the M1128 Stryker mobile artillery system.

  4. OFL 105 F2 APFSDS-T ammunition, produced in France. The AMX-30 tank was equipped with this round, but it may no longer be in service.

  5. 105mm APFSDS-T ammunition, made in China. Type 85-II, Type 80, Type 79 and Type 59 tanks are believed to be equipped with this shell.

  6. 105mm APFSDS round, produced by Pakistan. The Type 59 tank is believed to be equipped with this shell.

1.5 rounds 30mm

  1. PGU-14 Armor-Piercing Incendiary (API), American production for the A-10 Thunder and GPU-5 (sometimes mistakenly referred to as GPU-30) weapon module. The GPU-5 was originally designed to be installed on aircraft such as the F-15 or F-16. In 1991, it flew a mission aboard an F-16. The GPU-5 was later installed on the amphibious landing craft Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC).
  2. American made Apache Helicopter Ammo 30 x 113. The DU wheel of the platform has not been publicly acknowledged, but there is reliable information that it has been produced and shipped.

1.6 rounds 25mm

  1. The M919 APFSDS bomb produced in the United States is used in the M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicle.

  2. API PGU-20 round, produced by the United States. This round was used in the AV-8 Harrier II, but is no longer in service.

1720 mm bullet

The original ammunition for the US-produced Mk 15 Phalanx Close Combat Weapon System (CIWS) contains depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds. Phalanx CIWS is an autonomous shipboard system that detects and shoots down anti-ship missiles. Switched to tungsten rounds in 1990, but the Phalanx system is widely used and may still be in service in some countries.

1.8 rounds 12.7 mm (0.5 in)

The U.S. developed ammunition in this caliber but apparently never licensed it for use. Possibly a small amount was used in the 1991 Gulf War.

1.97,62 mm bullet

Ammunition in this caliber was developed by the United States, but apparently never licensed for use. Possibly a small amount was used in the 1991 Gulf War.

1,105.56mm ammunition

Ammunition in this caliber was developed by the United States, but apparently never licensed for use. Possibly a small amount was used in the 1991 Gulf War.

1.11 Other munitions containing depleted uranium

  1. Russian/Soviet built R-60 infrared-guided air-to-air missile (NATO designation AA-8 "Aphid"). Carried by many aircraft, including IAR-99, MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29, MiG-31, Su-17, Su-22, Su-24, Su-27, and possibly on Su -15, Su-25 and Yak-38. In the war

    In the former Yugoslavia, some R-60 missiles were apparently modified for use as surface-to-air missiles, and this practice may be repeated elsewhere.

  2. Area Denying Artillery Ammunition (ADAM) mines, produced by the United States.

  3. M86 mines of American production.

2. User Status

These lists should not be considered exhaustive.

2.1 Countries known to have depleted uranium ammunition in tanks

The states are listed in alphabetical order. Only shells believed to be currently in service are listed. Where possible, information about owned rounds is also included:

  1. Baréin - 105mm M833 Redondo

  2. China: 125mm and 105mm round

  3. France - 120mm OFL 120 F2 and PROCIPEC ammunition. Round OFL 105 F2 105mm.

  4. Israel - M833 105mm bullet. Israel may also have produced custom 120mm rounds.

  5. Jordan - M833 105mm Round

  6. Pakistan - 105 mm M833 ammunition. Also produced domestically are 125mm and 105mm ammunition.

  7. Federación de Rusia: 125mm round 3BK-21B, 125mm round 3VBM-13, 115mm round 3UBM-13

  8. Saudi Arabia - M833 105mm round

  9. Taiwan - 105mm M774 round

  10. Türkiye: 105mm M774, 105mm M833 round

  11. UK - 120mm L7 round

  12. US: M829 120mm and M900 105mm

2.2 Countries that may have depleted uranium ammunition in their tanks

There is some credible information that at one point India developed tank-based depleted uranium munitions, but it is unclear whether a single round of the munition was ever produced.

2.3 The countries of the former Soviet Union

In addition to the above, the following countries may have inherited EU arms after the collapse of the USSR and should therefore be considered as possible users:

  1. Azerbaijan

  2. Belarus

  3. Georgia

  4. Kazakhstan

  5. Kyrgyzstan

  6. Tajikistan

  7. Turkmenistan

  8. Ukraine

  9. Uzbekistan

2.4 Countries Deploying R-60 Air-to-Air Missiles

  1. Afghanistan (now apparently decommissioned)

  2. Algeria

  3. Angola

  4. Azerbaijan

  5. Belarus

  6. Bulgaria

  7. porcelain

  8. croatia

  9. cuba

  10. Czech Republic

  11. Egypt

  12. Finland

  13. Germany

  14. Hungary

  15. Kazakhstan

  16. India

  17. Iraq (now apparently decommissioned)

  18. North Korea

  19. Libya

  20. Malaysia

  21. Montenegro (possibly inherited some missile inventory after the end of the alliance with Serbia)

  22. Poland

  23. Romania

  24. Serbia

  25. Slovakia

  26. Sudan

  27. Syria

  28. Turkmenistan

  29. Ukraine

  30. Uzbekistan

  31. Vietnam

  32. Yemen

2.5 Countries deploying Phalanx close-in weapon systems

Although DU ammunition for this system was discontinued in 1990, and most states have replaced it with tungsten ammunition, the following states may still have some DU ammunition in their arsenals:

  1. Australia

  2. Bahrain

  3. Brazil

  4. Canada

  5. ecuador

  6. Egypt

  7. Greece

  8. India

  9. Israel

  10. Japan

  11. Malaysia

  12. Mexico

  13. morocco

  14. new Zealand

  15. Pakistan

  16. Poland

  17. Portugal

  18. Saudi Arabia

  19. Spain

  20. Taiwan

  21. Thailand

  22. There

  23. U.K.

  24. European Union

3. Affected countries

3.1 Areas where EU ammunition has been confirmed to have been used in conflicts

When information is available, the year of use and circumstances are briefly described. Note that in some cases the status of territories may be disputed:

  1. Afghanistan. UE ammunition is believed to have been used by Russia and the US Army during the war in Afghanistan since 2001.

  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1994 and 1995, U.S. A-10 aircraft involved in the Civil War used UE ammunition.

  3. Iraq. The US and UK armies again used UE ammunition in 1991 and 2003.

  4. Kosovo. In 1999, U.S. A-10 aircraft used UE ammunition.

  5. Kuwait. US and British troops used UE ammunition in 1991.

  6. Montenegro. In 1999, U.S. A-10 aircraft used UE ammunition.

  7. Serbia. In 1999, U.S. A-10 aircraft used UE ammunition.

3.2 Areas of possible but not confirmed use of conflicting EU ammunition

This list is by no means exhaustive. In general, any conflict involving the status of known or suspected users of depleted uranium is likely to involve depleted uranium munitions. However, the following conflicting features make them of particular interest.

  1. Georgia. Depleted uranium ammunition may have been used in the 2008 conflict with Russia over South Ossetia.

  2. Russia. Depleted uranium ammunition may have been used during the Chechen wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2000.

  3. Somalia. Depleted uranium ammunition may have been used by US troops in Somalia in 1994.

  4. Ukraine. EU munitions may have been used by Ukrainian or Russian troops in conflict that began in 2014

revision history

Manage revisions to technical descriptions

Technical Notes (TN) are revised "as needed". When amendments are made to this TS, they will be assigned a number with the date and general details of the amendment shown in the table below. Amendments will also appear on the title page of the NT, with the phrase "Contains Amendment No. 1, etc." in the version date.

As the TN is revised, new editions may be issued. Modifications as of the date of the new edition will be incorporated into the new edition and the revision log will be cleared. Recording of revisions will start over until a new version is produced.

The most recently revised TN will be the version published on the IMAS websitewww.mineactionstandards.org.



Amendment details


1For more information, see


2McLaughlin et al., "Analysis of actinide elements in depleted uranium armor-piercing rounds from the 1999 target site in southern Serbia."

3Density (D) = Mass (M) / Volume (V).

4Kinetic energy (KE) = 1⁄2 mass (M) x velocity (v)2.

5Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, "Uranium Toxicology Profiles",

year 2013,www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/TP.asp;

6This PPE is in addition to the PPE requirements contained in IMAS 10.30.

7United Nations Environment Programme, Depleted Uranium in Bosnia and Herzegovina: A Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment. http://www.unep.org/disastersandconflicts/portals/155/disastersandconflicts/docs/dup/BiH_DU_report.pdf

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